Vietnamese Culture - A 1970's Perspective
                         Copyright 1996 Vn-families

Issue #18. Hair: VN style, Vietnam Bulletin, July 1970.

We will run this column weekly until we run out of interesting cultural 
Please direct all questions to [email protected]
Here is the proposed schedule of this column.

Issue #1:  Tet 1971 in Vietnam! by Phu Si, VB710118 - Jan 17, 1996
Issue #2:  The Unicorn dance at Tet, by Minh Tam, VB710118.
Issue #3:  The origin of Tao Quan, the three kitchen gods, by
           George F. Schultz, VB710118.
Issue #4:  1971 - The year of the Pig, by Van Ngan, VB710118.
Issue #5   The Joy of "first writing of the new year", by Thuy Ngoc,
Issue #6:  Traditional Vietnamese male attire, by Van Ngan, VB710208
Issue #7:  The legend of Princess Lieu Hanh, George F. Schultz, VB710215 
Issue #8:  The dialogue on Mount Na-Son, George F. Schultz, VB710222
Issue #9:  The secret housewife, George F. Schultz, VB710301
Issue #10: The golden axe, George F. Schultz, VB710308
Issue #11: Golden age of Viet Nam under the Hung Kings, Pham Tung, 
Issue #12: The legend of Chu Van Dich, George F Schutlz, VB701221
Issue #13: The sandalwood maiden, George F. Schultz, VB7010??
Issue #14: Legend about Emperor Ly Thai-To, George F Schultz, VB7010??
Issue #15. Chu Dong-Tu and Princess Tien Dung, George F. Schultz,
Issue #16. The husband's most difficult task: teaching his wife, 
           Van Ngan, VB 691216
Issue #17: Superstition in Viet Nam, Van Ngan, VB6911?? - May 8, 1996.
Issue #18: Hair: VN style, VB7007?? - May 15, 1996
Issue #19: Funeral rites in Viet-Nam, Van Ngan, VB7006?? - May 22, 1996.
                            Hair: VN Style

In a popular Vietnamese folk song expressing the ten most striking 
features of a gracious and beautiful woman, long jet black hair is cited 
as being of first importance: "You are first loved for your hair which 
is tied in a cock�s tail shape." There is good reason to place a 
Vietnamese woman�s hair in first place. Long and flowing, smooth and 
very fine, it makes any woman, even one otherwise not attractive, appear 
feminine and graceful.

In ancient times when girls were raised in traditional customs and 
manners, their hair was nurtured and regarded as a symbol of 
correctness, kindness and virtue. "One�s hair reveals one�s origin," 
says an old proverb which fully expressed the importance people attached 
to hair, especially that of a young woman. No girl dared cut her hair, 
and. untied, it would reach her heels.

The hair of young women is a subject which has occupied a significant 
place in Vietnamese literature, poetry, and art.. "Her hair is silken 
threads of cloud, and her eyebrows crescent like moons and shadowed 
clouds on a quiet night," a poet of times past sang in reference to the 
hair of Vietnamese girls.

Times have changed since then, and today only a few girls allow their 
hair to grow long enough to reach their heels. Style changes have come 
in stages. A plaited braid was the first sign of change, followed by the 
"pony tail" when the hair was still long, but gathered behind the neck. 
Later women adopted the onion-shaped chignon with the hair wound behind 
the neck in a roll. Some Vietnamese women in the provinces still wear 
their hair in a chignon.

During the French period, western fashions penetrated Vietnam. Shortly 
before World War II, women in the cities married to Frenchmen; or 
working in French businesses began cuttings their hair and curling it 
into tight sausage curls with a curling iron. The curly style spread 
like an oil slick on water. Middle class girls disregarded public 
opinion and began wearing the little ringlets. The practice filtered 
down to the countryside, and after Vietnam was divided in 1954, hair 
curling shops had sprung up everywhere.

At the same time, there was a fad for dying hair. Jet black hair was 
tinted orange, red, and even blonde, generally with very unfortunate 
results. This fad was short-lived, and today few Vietnamese women change 
the shade of their hair.

Hairdressers are always happy to cut the waist length or longer hair of 
young girls. With the sudden popularity of wigs and hair pieces, the 
long thin strands command a high market price. However, once cut, the 
girl is faced with the problem of choosing a hair style. The 
possibilities are endless.

It now appears that hair styles are not only subject to change, but also 
to cycles. In Saigon at the present time, long hair is making a 
comeback. The gracefulness of long hair seems to have an attraction that 
young women are again discovering. They have begun changing back to the 
natural long hair, letting it grow to flow down their backs. Perhaps 
they now realize the true value of long hair, for, as it was once 
remarked, the very slender Vietnamese girls without their long hair do 
not differ from trees with leafless branches.